If you clicked the link to read this review is because somehow you have heard about King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, or because the name was too odd for you to pass on discovering what the hell Is a band called liked that being covered in a Metal magazine, well let me first tell you that this band with the weird name released the critically acclaimed Thrash Metal album Infest the Rats’ Nest (Flightless Records) in 2019 which added a new genre in their vast catalog of albums that include a wide range of genres that go from psychedelic to garage, to progressive rock, among others. On the other hand, if you have heard King Gizz, you know exactly what I’m talking about and you probably agree with me that this band is one of the most creative musical acts in the world at this moment. Continue reading
I basically came out of the womb listening to music. I was lucky enough to be one of those children that grew up being exposed to a multifaceted plethora of music genres. Today, when I started listening to the new album by Pinkish Black, Concept Unification (Relapse Records), I was caught up in a wave a delightful nostalgia. The music flooding my ear holes, created by the Fort Worth Texas duo of Jon Teaque and Daron Beck eerily reminded me of the solo work of one of my favorite bassist of all time, John Entwisle. Entwisle did an album in 1972, titled Whistle Rymes (MCA Records), that I feel the new Pinkish Black album echo’s. What am I trying to say here? I am saying that Concept Unification is fervently grandiose. Continue reading
Is there anything a band can really do without? Drummers and bassists are indispensable. Guitarists summon the magic and give the punters something to throw things at. Keyboardists? Well, sometimes they’re OK. The dude with the bagpipes? Folk Metal is the new Sex. Continue reading
Ex Eye’s self-titled album (Relapse) is something extraordinarily different, so hold on to your hats and brace yourself! The soon-to-be-legendary group consists of renowned, experimental saxophonist Colin Stetson, Greg Fox on drums, Shahzad Ismaily on synths and Toby Summerfield on guitar and these dudes will literally blow your mind! Continue reading
While most of the rock world is patiently awaiting the next Tool album, Maynard James Keenan has released yet another gem from his (sort of) solo project known as Puscifer. Money Shot (Puscifer Entertainment) is the third full length release from MJK and has quickly shot up the list of my favorite albums of the year. This record provided proportionate doses of both your typical instrumentals with a more percussive feel as well as the electronic, manufactured sound. Probably one of the most important elements outside of Maynard is the returning second vocalist, Carina Round. As Ghost Cult’s own Keith Chachkes said of Carina, “She is the yin to Maynard’s yang.” Money Shot only adds evidence to that claim as Round and Keenan once again make magic.
I always found it hard to pick out any favorite tracks when listening to new albums from any of Maynard’s projects and this album followed in the same fashion. Each song on Money Shot is truly one of a kind with their own personalities almost. Opening track, ‘Galileo’ , kicks off the record with a very spacey feeling song which is suiting of its title. This song is slightly more electronic then rock but still showcases both sides of Puscifer in an enjoyable five minute opener. ‘Simultaneous’ is half spoken word/story over crescendo instrumentals and then spills into lyrics. I found the story itself to be the best part of the song. The story is being told by a man who tried holding a conversation with someone else who was mostly too wrapped up in the music on their walkman. It is not until the batteries stop dying that this person finally starts giving his undivided attention to our narrator. At which point, the man grabs hold of the narrator and tells him that world peace cannot be obtained until three people simultaneously look each other in the eye. ‘The Remedy’ is another solid cut from this album and which really resonated with me both musically and lyrically. Instrumentally, the riffs in this song, especially in the second half, get my hair to stand straight up each time I listen. The lyrics take a big shot at people nowadays that have that entitlement feeling about themselves. Specifically, one passage of the song has Maynard mentioning that a person is speaking “like someone who has never been… smacked in the fucking mouth. That’s OK, we have the remedy.” I am sure many listeners can think of a time they had to deal with some snotty brat that thought they were better than you. Now if only we could deliver such a remedy to said asshole such as the one mentioned in this song.
From start to finish, Puscifer delivers money shot after money shot in the form of aural enjoyment. There is enough variation across the album that there really is something for everyone here. Keenan and Co can continue to be proud of their work after yet another successful release. So, instead of pounding away at your keyboard on social media bitching about the next Tool album, maybe you should hit up YouTube and try out Puscifer.
If the adage “times flies when you’re having fun” has any sort of current validation then Oxford’s Desert Storm must be having quite a lot of fun as this is, almost unbelievably, their third album. Following a debut record, Forked Tongue (independent/self-released), that showed a huge amount of promise, a second album (Horizontal Life) (Blindsight) that pretty much said “yes, they know exactly what they are doing: more please”, the band’s bluesy, riff hungry, gnarlier-than-you take on southern influenced blues/sludge rock suggested a band with its heart and its head in deepest Missouri as opposed to the English home counties.
For this third album, the enigmatically titled Omniscient Masters (Blindsight), the word “experimentation” occasionally springs to mind, although, worry not, the departures are more nuanced than truly startling- they haven’t gone all One Direction on us, for example. Omniscient Masters is the sound of a band feeling like they need to stretch their creative legs a bit, whilst continuing to deliver slab after slab of riff-tastic blues rock.
To these ears, Omniscient Masters is an album that owes something of a creative debt to Orange Goblin. As any fool know, there’s not much wrong with that and so it proves on the splendid and splendidly titled ‘Collapse of the Bison Lung’ which is stirring and heavier than a lead and iron sandwich. You won’t need a post-graduate qualification to know what ‘Queen Reefer’ is all about and ‘Outlander’ is dirtier than a post festival wardrobe. So far, so familiar and so very welcome. There is a very Anglo-Saxon sense of humour running through ‘Nightbus Blues’ and its very recognisable tales of that 4am walk home from a session too far will doubtless be familiar to many readers although I’m less sure how well this translates to an international audience.
Those highlights apart, the rest of the album is not quite up to scratch and, as a long time watcher of the band, I worry that this is going to end up as a missed opportunity. Omnisicient Masters is good but it’s not great and I so wanted it to be great. I rate this band; they’ve got a certain something that is genuinely worth championing. I can’t help but think that with a bit more work and a producer like, say, Andy Sneap working with them, we would have had a little bit more judicious editing and a bit more forensic focus on the execution; as it stands, Omniscient Masters is ok when it should have been K.O. Plenty of credit for the experimentation, but points deducted for the execution; a veritable curate’s egg, then. If your curate is a metal head, of course.
In genetics, mutation is said to have neutral, positive and negative effects. Mutation is necessary for the evolutionary process of beings. A mutation is also said to be a permanent change, often radically altering what was, to create what will be. In music, artists often give life to songs, and once they are recorded, they vary little from that ‘final version’ the artist and their audience grows accustomed to. For the project known as Puscifer, Maynard James Keenan prefers to release new music and then re-imagine the songs into other states, also sometimes yielding radical results. Ghost Cult caught up with one of the main conspirators of the band, Mat Mitchell, about the bands’ new album All Re-mixed Up (Puscifer Entertainment). All Remixed Up takes up the challenge revisiting the entire Conditions Of My Parole album and creating something new and different.
What was the genesis of All Remixed Up, following Conditions Of My Parole?
We really enjoy working with other artists and getting other people’s take on what we do. It’s a really easy medium to work with other people. It was something we had planned on doing when we were writing the record. It was something that was on our mind. It just took us a little while to move forward, and actually sit down and do it and for the remix record to come out. I think the timing is good because a lot of people have gotten to see these shows live now and are more familiar with that album. So I think the timing is good for new interpretation, and fresh versions of those songs for people to be out there too.
How did you approach your track ‘Monsters (Deconstruct)’ and re-mixing in general?
The approach is different, depending on the song. In the case of ‘Monsters’ I kind of wanted to maintain somewhat of the feel, but change it, so when you hear where it sounds the same, but you are not sure what is different. And in some instances I will completely totally deconstruct a song and rebuild it completely different, and changing the emotion, changing the instrumentation to really change the feel of the song. It really depends on the song and how that inspires me to change it. For that one specifically, I wanted to change the feel of that one, but I don’t know, make it different.
Did you have a hand in selecting the other re-mixers?
I definitely had some involvement in helping pick (the other remixers). A lot of these artists or friends of friends of the group. A lot of these folks, whether it is a rap band or a rock band, are usually just one degree between most of the bands out there. One thing that was my responsibility here was who I thought would be a really good person to of a remix for this song or that one. And in terms of someone like Sir-Mix-A-Lot; the curve ball on the record was ‘Conditions’, and it seemed like the perfect fit for him to do that one.
The most standout track to me is Carina Rounds’ take on ‘Telling Ghosts (Giorgia O`Queef Mix)’
She’s very accomplished and has done so much as an artist. One thing she really hasn’t done was any kind of remix stuff. She was apprehensive at first going into it, but we talked through it and she did it, and of course the result is not surprising. It’s amazing! I can’t stress enough just how creative she is. Anything that she does is going to be great.
Was there a single track that performed above your expectations?
I think there is something about every track. There was no one single track that gave back something completely unexpected. There is definitely something about elements of each remix: the drum programming on Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s one, or the chaos stuff on the John Fryer one, the vocal treatments on the Carina’s. There were definitely elements on every track that were inspiring and made me want to go write a new song. I think everyone came to the table with cool stuff.
It is pretty ambitious to take a part an entire album and put it back together, isn’t it?
Well, when you are handing it off to different people, it makes the job a lot easier. We facilitate and let the artists just handle every track. We thought it would be cool to take an album that has a story, has a mood; and break it apart. Then distribute it out to different people. Give it out to other people and see what they comeback with. You going to have the same track list and maintain the running order, if you are familiar with the album. You will get the same story, the same flow, but have a very different experience. It’s great for us to put it out there and see of people respond to us. I think it’s great to see how that works.
Regarding your career, what circle of your work led you to Puscifer and working with Maynard?
I was a musician growing up, by trade. Obviously, I wasn’t making the kind of living I was going to be happy with, just being a musician. You just did what you have to do to be comfortable. I wasn’t really happy with the money I was making, just as a musician. So I started doing more production stuff, soundtrack stuff, and video game and movie stuff. Opening myself up to those different facets really helped build my skill-set and allowed me to think differently about things. Because whether you are doing music or video games, the craft is affected by that. Then one of things I was doing was, I had done some video work from a tour, and then I had been recommend from that, to work with Billy Howerdell on a live tour for their second album. When I started working with those guys, that’s how Maynard and I met, and the rest is history.
How do you manage your schedule and expectations for work, when your boss is all over the place with projects.
One thing he (Maynard) is really great at is he is a great multi-tasker! He doesn’t have one foot in one thing, and one foot in another. He knows what he wants to do, and get it on to a schedule, on to a calendar. Right now he is ‘in crush’, he’s busy with wine stuff. So we know we are not going to be touring. I don’t know how better to explain it. We are all pretty open with what we want to get accomplished. We make our schedules work around that, and what we want to accomplish, and make it work around that.
The Re-mix album came on the heels of the Donkey Punch the Night EP. I think those two new tracks on that album were over looked a bit and are quite good.
Those were ideas we have been nursing a little bit while we were touring the Conditions… album. There weren’t extra tracks from the Conditions album, they were brand new songs. We wanted to put something out. A couple of ideas and a couple of covers and that is it. The ‘Bohemian…’ thing (‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ cover) was something Maynard has been threatening us with for quite some time. We came to the realization that this wasn’t going to go away for us. So we wanted to buckle down and do it, and make it as great as we could make it. Like you said, it is normal for us to do the re-mixing thing. We like to think that it is normal for us that if we want to put out and EP or a full- length, we can do it.
Is it daunting to take on a song like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, it’s such an iconic song?
Absolutely. It’s not just a song. It’s epic in the arrangement. In the instrumentation. In every facet, it’s daunting. We made the right idea to try to keep it as accurate as we could. It seemed like the right thing for us to do for that song. Whereas with ‘Balls to the Wall’, we changed it quite a bit. But ‘Bohemian’ just felt right to keep it and I think it was more of a challenge for us to keep it to the original. One of the things we were thinking about it while we were tracking it. These guys had to write and record this thing; we only needed to record it. All we had to do was a cover of it, and technically and creatively it was a fun exercise. I’m glad we did it and I’m happy with the result.
What’s next on the horizon for you and Puscifer?
We are working on a few things. A few different projects. I don’t know if you heard the little teaser, Matt (McJunkins) and Jeff (Friedl) from Puscifer, and from a few other things, are working on a project called Beta Machine. I’m helping those guys out with that. We’re all getting really excited about that. And I’m kind of helping with that. And there is a couple of new things that I can’t mention, but are really exciting. And there is some other Puscifer stuff I can’t get into right now, with a few new things coming out, but we are not ready to announce.
KEITH KEEFY CHACHKES
Silent Machine, the debut album from Australia’s Twelve Foot Ninja is a fascinating and fun record from a quirky, original band. On its Australian release it hit number 4 in the AIR (Australian Independent Record Labels Association) chart and the band’s videos have garnered more than one million YouTube hits. Continue reading
From the savage burst of noise that opens ‘White Mountain’, slowly draining down into a constant drum beat and gradual instrumentation, to the twinkling, fairy light synths that close ‘Circular Ruins’ this group of Seattle experimentalists do their utmost to confuse, delight and assault the listener with their latest album. Continue reading